Does it matter if printed books disappear?

“Books, printed on paper and sold in bookstores, have been our best friends for many centuries. They have educated billions of people worldwide, they have strengthened resistance, and have made people dream about better political and economic systems. There would have been no revolution without them, no intellectual development, and no deep understanding of the world.”

Bookstores are disappearing along with printed books. Does it affect us at all? How?

“It’s as if the people in the US and Europe have been fully surrendered to the markets, and as if the people have no other choice but to sit and wait while the corporate giants decide how they should be given their information.

I really don’t want to live in such a world and I don’t, but that’s not the point. What matters is that the West is eventually going to export its business concepts all over the world, as it always does. If the bookstores close down in London, Paris and New York, the chances are that the new ‘trend’ will be pushed down the throats of the people in Kuala Lumpur, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires and elsewhere. And readers will have little choice in what they hold. And that matters to me.

What appears to be truly at stake here is definitely much more than the pathetic bottom lines of some corporate brethren. The chase for profits could deeply, irreversibly and negatively affect one of the most important and noble of human activities: the entire culture of reading and of learning. How could such principal decisions be left to a bunch of businessmen in their corporate institutions?

Public parks and sidewalks are also ‘unprofitable’. Of course in some countries, such as Indonesia, where Jakarta and other cities have implemented a virtually absolute western market-regime, such ‘unnecessary’ entities have almost completely disappeared. But is this what we want: the world without parks and forests, without sidewalks and public places, without books? Have we totally surrendered ourselves to corporate terror?

You see – if we allow business to take over everything, there would be soon nothing worth living for. We would be reduced to being pre-programmed robotic consumers, locked in efficient, air-conditioned and ultimately sterile malls, watching never-ending soap operas on television, eating and drinking pre-digested factory produced meals made from floor scraps, reading computer generated ‘novels’ and comic strips, watching movies with computer-generated plots. We would never be without our music storing, camera toting ‘smart phones’, headphones permanently jammed in our ears, listening to the same copyright protected, mass-produced synthesized voices and rhythms!

Yet such a society, attempting to change the global system to its ends, is self-defeating in that it is failing to understand, to deplore and to prevent atrocities it is committing, atrocities which are reducing the number of potential consumers.”

Source: http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/07/in-defense-of-paper-books/

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